More than a decade of talking comes to an end on Thursday with the opening of Westfield London, and I for one am excited.

If I had a pound for every media outlet that has rung me over the past week asking "isn't this a bad time to be opening a shopping centre", I'd probably be able to buy the Westfield centre.

In fact, I think the centre is going to be rammed when it opens this Thursday, and the biggest issues are likely to be managing the crowds and avoiding bringing West London's traffic to a standstill.

Shoppers want good stores in good locations. That has been indisputably proven by the shoppers of Bristol, Leicester and Liverpool already this year, and I reckon shoppers in London - who have never had the benefit of a massive in-town mega-centre - will flock to Westfield.

From a purely personal point of view, as someone who has lived and shopped all my life in London, I think the investment in the city and the jobs it will create make Westfield a good thing.

I'm fed up of being told by people whose job it is to promote the West End that it's the best shopping location in the world. It isn't. It has a handful of world-class stores and one outstanding landlord in the Crown Estate.

Other than that, the environment is grim, parking is a nightmare, many of the shops are average and progress in getting any significant infrastructure improvements is about as slow as one of the empty buses that sit outside Selfridges belching fumes.

But London’s West End still has a big future as a global retail destination and can live comfortably alongside Westfield - if anything, the new centre may give landlords and retailers the impetus to improve their offers in the centre of town.

In the meantime, though, Westfield should be a ray of optimism in a gloomy retail world. There are some cracking new formats being trialled in the centre and I can't see many shoppers going there and not spending.

Keep up with all the news on opening day at, and a full review of the centre and its stores will appear in next week's magazine.